Update to the latest ESXI 6.7 patch version on an Intel NUC (offline update)

I recently bought an Intel NUC for my homelab (NUC7i5BNH with 64Gigs of RAM) which has been running ESXi for the past few months and I have been happy with its performance so far. Fear for the worst, I noticed a few minor UI issues in the build that I was running which had been really bugging me. For Example: When using the search bar in the HTML5 UI, it partially hides the last search result in the list which was super annoying.

Luckily, VMware fixed these issues in one of the newer 6.7 patch releases and this blog post details on how I updated ESXi 6.7 U3 to the latest patch release on my NUC. To be precise, the upgrade was from ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard (Build 14320388) to ESXi-6.7.0-20200604001 (Build 16316930). PS: I am not using vCenter in my homelab.

Short Version:

1. Backup your VMs/ESXI configuration. Download the latest patch from VMware’s website (Link).
2. Upload the ESXI patch release to the server’s datastore.
3. SSH into the NUC and get the full location of uploaded patch in your datastore. Find the profiles bundled within the patch file.
4. Put the ESXI server in maintenance mode and start the update.
4. Once update is complete, reboot the NUC, disable maintenance mode and you are good to go.

[Disclaimer: Please review VMware’s best practices for performing an ESXI upgrade which also includes taking backup of your ESXI configuration + VMs. if you plan to upgrade for a production system, make sure all necessary backups are taken before attempting the procedure. My NUC which is the 5th gen, the update worked right of the box without any customization. If you are running the new 10th generation Intel NUC, then you may need have make some modification to the VIBs for the upgrade to work.]

Long Version:

Go to VMware’s patch page  and download the latest patch version for the ESXI release (Link).

In my case, I downloaded the latest patch which at the time of writing this post was ESXi670-202006001.zip.

Before the upgrade, my Intel NUC was running the below build:

[[email protected]:~] vmware -vl
VMware ESXi 6.7.0 build-14320388
VMware ESXi 6.7.0 Update 3

-To check the volumes in the datastore. I did upload my patch to the ssd datastore which is a symlink.

[[email protected]:~] ls /vmfs/volumes/ -l
total 1792
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root             8 Jan  1  1970 317122ee-8c7e716b-adf9-8414e6a14676
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root             8 Jan  1  1970 5e4867ab-521f3ade-c1f4-94c691adc828
drwxr-xr-t    1 root     root         86016 Jun 26 18:10 5e486a9d-f29d23c4-81b6-94c691adc828
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root             8 Jan  1  1970 dafb9eea-924c7ebf-4eba-5b7ab8fcbb15
lrwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            35 Jun 26 18:16 ssd -> 5e486a9d-f29d23c4-81b6-94c691adc828

Verify the full path/location of the uploaded image.

[[email protected]:~] ls /vmfs/volumes/5e486a9d-f29d23c4-81b6-94c691adc828/ESXi670-202006001.zip

Using esxcli, find the profiles that are bundled with the offline installer. The profile name will be used later when performing the upgrade.

[[email protected]:~] esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/5e486a9d-f29d23c4-81b6-94c691adc828/ESXi670-202006001.zip
Name                             Vendor        Acceptance Level  Creation Time        Modification Time
-------------------------------  ------------  ----------------  -------------------  -------------------
ESXi-6.7.0-20200604001-standard  VMware, Inc.  PartnerSupported  2020-06-04T02:21:11  2020-06-04T02:21:11
ESXi-6.7.0-20200604001-no-tools  VMware, Inc.  PartnerSupported  2020-06-04T02:21:11  2020-06-04T02:21:11
[[email protected]:~]

Place the ESXI host in maintenance mode before starting the upgrade.

[[email protected]:~] esxcli system maintenanceMode set -e true

Verify that ESXI is running in Maintenance mode.

[[email protected]:~] esxcli system maintenanceMode get

The output “Enabled” means that the host is in maintenance mode.

To perform the patch upgrade, pass the path and the profile as well.

[[email protected]:~] esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/5e486a9d-f29d23c4-81b6-94c691adc828/ESXi670-202006001.zip -p ESXi-6.7.0-20200604001-standard
Update Result
Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.
Reboot Required: true
VIBs Installed: VMW_bootbank_ixgben_1.7.1.16-2vmw.670.3.104.16075168, 
[[email protected]:~]

Once the update is complete, reboot the ESXI server.

[[email protected]:~] reboot

Once the host is back up, SSH into the ESXI host. The host will still be in maintenance mode which is expected.

[[email protected]:~] esxcli system maintenanceMode get

Disable maintenance mode

[[email protected]:~] esxcli system maintenanceMode set -e false
[[email protected]:~] esxcli system maintenanceMode get

Now, verify that the update completed and is running the new build.

[[email protected]:~] vmware -vl
VMware ESXi 6.7.0 build-16316930
VMware ESXi 6.7.0 Update 3
[[email protected]:~]

Well, Thats it folks!! Hope this helps.


PS: I anticipated the update process to be super confusing and tedious. However, it turned out to be fairly simple thanks to jeffreykusters and VMware’s instructions which I have credited them for below).